Friday, April 3, 2009

People Training


I am realizing more and more that learning to communicate better with my horses is changing the way that I react to people. Just because Silk and Siete can’t talk back doesn’t mean that they don’t have strong opinions of their own. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Ray Hunt’s belief that you can’t force anyone, two or four-legged, to learn something without also causing there to be resentment. Good teaching is setting things up so the student has that “a-ha!” moment on their own.

I see how my attempts at making Siete or my 13-year old daughter pay attention by insisting that they do it my way causes them to rear up and stubbornly dig in their heels. Giving them a choice, with one alternative that is obviously going to be more pleasant for the “student” always seems to help them remember my “lesson” better the next time.

One of my first attempts at applying my horse training experience to dealing with people came years ago when I had a difficult boss with a big ego and red hot temper. I thought about how circling a horse around and around can result in the horse finally coming to the conclusion that going my way is a better response than getting bored and dizzy. So, I used to circle around the same subject with my boss, patiently letting him get out all his aggression and blustering until he was so ready to be done with it and move on that he would let me do it the way I was suggesting just so we would stop talking about it.

When Siete or Silk are in some kind of pain, they get very soft and affectionate with me while I take care of them. As soon as they feel healthy and are bored, their energy rises and they try to assert themselves. The other day, I noticed that my 94-year old mother was behaving the same way that Siete was. I thought about what I do with my little horse when she gets edgy. I give her more exercise. So, I bundled Mom up and took her to the store with me, walking her up and down the aisles to give her something to do and to distract her.

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned over the past couple of years of interacting throughout every day with my horses is that things don’t always have to go my way and that calmness and patience are my most effective training tools. Just as horses remember when humans hurt them, they also remember when someone is kind. There are times when Silk and Siete don’t want to do what I’m asking them to do, but if I step away and give them a break, I am usually pleased to find when I come back and ask them again that they accept my leadership. In the end, with people or horses, it’s all about mutual respect, isn’t it?

13 comments:

Lori Skoog said...

Good Morning Victoria. Nice Post....if more people would just use some common sense. Also, our energy level comes on like a blow torch...sometimes it's good and sometimes not. Animals seem to be more sensitive than people. Many people let things pass them right by.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

I really enjoyed this, Victoria. I like to read posts that are reflective and draw comparisons like this. It's a good feeling to slow down and really think about what may be causing certain behaviors in others, and what we can do to help.

Hmmmm. My word verification is beholi. Be holy. I think you succeed in that department.

Karen McLain said...

Well said Victoria! I have learned so much from horses and it has changed my life. Just as it is important for the horse to be freed up to move a hoof, I believe we need to have our emotional/mental weight freed up to move in our lives.

Kate said...

Wonderful post - I think many of the problems people have with their horses, or with other people, are caused by impatience - if we can just slow down and give the horse/person a chance to participate in the conversation, things come out differently! I liked the examples you gave with your boss and mother.

Esther Garvi said...

I loved this post, and I thoroughly agree! Training horses and knowing I get NOTHING through by being frustrated has helped me when dealing both with dogs and with people. Realizing just how much of communication is down to one's own attitude is the biggest key is getting through in any relationship that is more or less uphill.

Bill Evertson said...

Nice post and as always a wonderful life lesson to bring home.

detroit dog said...

This is a good post, and relevant as always. BUT...

I'm having one of those days that I'm wishing you could perhaps write something a bit more husband-specific, if you know what I mean.

:-)

Gecko said...

I'm glad you posted this, when you think about it horse's minds aren't ALL that different, they just can't espress it in words so we take the extra time to 'listen' to the horses. Imagine if we all did this with each other? I think it's about time I started applying this to my life too! I leave for work in half an hour, so I'll treat the customers like horses and see how it goes. =)

Grey Horse Matters said...

You're right about being calm and patient, if we can't use that in our daily lives we will just burn out and not get anything accomplished.
I find that being calm and patient and just waiting has gone a long way in getting horses, dogs or people to come around to my way of doing things. You'll never get anywhere being pushy and stubborn and you can wait for a very long time to have them come over to your side.

Jim Quinlan said...

You are such a beautiful person Victoria. I just love reading your insight and messages through your blog. Very wise and spiritual.

Strawberry Lane said...

Great post, Victoria!

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't see the rewards of patience with the horses.

Sometimes, people take a little longer. Took me awhile to learn that "suggestions are taken as criticism".Then I wonder what they are ticked about.

So, "I" finally learned. Now, they have to beg for my suggestions. Sure gives me a sense of freedom from feeling that I need to "fix everything!"

That was a terrific idea about taking your mom for an outing.

deejbrown said...

Oh, what a great post. I have read it a few times. Maybe should be in a manual about Living. Stepping away, patience, circling, learning without resentment. I will take this with me. Thank you.

Pony Girl said...

So true. You insight, as usual, is right on! I'm sure your mom enjoyed her outing. I think we sometimes forget that horses...and people, are bored by their routines, and just a small change and affect their energy, hopefully for the better! :)